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Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka’s progress on GSP+ commitments: top EU officials says report due soon

ECONOMYNEXT – The European Union will assess progress made on Sri Lanka’s commitments for the 500 million US dollar GSP+ trade concession “very soon”, with a report due to be released later this year or early 2023, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office said Monday October 03 morning that von der Leyen had made this reference to the EU’s assessment of Sri Lanka’s commitments in a statement she had made on Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s access to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concession has been under review for extension as the country failed to adhere to several of the commitments it had made, mainly with regard to human rights.

GSP+ is an annual trade concession worth over 500 million US dollars which has boosted Sri Lanka’s exports to EU member states over the years mainly in the garments sector, a top forex earner for the island nation.

The president’s media division (PMD) said that von der Leyen had congratulated President Wickremesinghe on his election and has assured the EU’s support to the government of Sri Lanka for its efforts to successfully overcome the country’s prevailing currency crisis.

According to the PMD, the EU commission chief’s statement has said that, at a time of unprecedented challenges faced by the people of Sri Lanka, the European Union remains committed to support Sri Lanka’s efforts to overcome the crisis successfully, including the necessary reforms that will bring the country back to a path of inclusive prosperity and lasting national reconciliation.

She had said that, this process, freedom of expression and assembly, dialogue among all stakeholders, as well as respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights will remain essential.

The EU has stressed on several occasions that Sri Lanka needs to uphold its commitments, particularly with regard to eradicating human rights violations in the country. Of particular concern to the EU has been Sri Lanka’s controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), an anti-terror law that critics have called draconian.

In June 2021, the European parliament adopted a resolution calling for the repeal  of the PTA and inviting the EU Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing Sri Lanka’s access to GSP+.

More recently, a spate of arrests of anti-government protestors by police since the election of President Wickremesinghe has drawn international criticism, especially with regard to the detention of three activists under provisions of the PTA. The government, however, maintains that all arrests so far have been legal and were of individuals accused of offences such as damaging public property.

The PMD statement said von der Leyen had “commended the success in the efforts to introduce and steer policies that will ensure the short and long-term interests of all Sri Lankans and address the devastating efforts of the unprecedented economic downturn as well as the negotiations with international financial institutions and creditors.”

She has also expressed an interest in working closely to strengthen further the ties and cooperation, based on commitments to shared values and common interests, the statement said.

In August, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Sarah Hulton said Sri Lanka will benefit from the UK’s new trade concessionary scheme Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) that will replace the GSP+ in that country and will be in force from 2023.

Related:

Sri Lanka to benefit from access to UK’s new trading scheme: high commissioner

(Colombo/Oct03/2022)

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Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium on Sri Lanka debt, 15 years of debt restructuring

ECONOMYNEXT — The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis, India’s The Hindustan Times reported.

While the Paris Club has yet to formally reach out to India and China, Colombo has yet to initiate a formal dialogue with the Xi Jinping regime, the newspaper reported on Saturday December 03, inferring that the chances of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approving its 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility for Sri Lanka in December now ranges from very low to nonexistent.

“This means that Sri Lanka will have to wait for the March IMF meeting of the IMF before any aid is extended by the Bretton Woods institution,” the newspaper reported.

“Fact is that for Sri Lanka to revive, creditors will have to take a huge hair cut with Paris Club clearly hinting that global south should also take the same cut as global north notwithstanding the inequitable distribution of wealth. In the meantime, as Colombo is still to get its act together and initiate a dialogue and debt reconciliation with China, it will need bridge funding to sustain the next three month before the IMF executive board meeting in March 2023. Clearly, things will get much worse for Sri Lanka before they get any better—both economically and politically,” the report said. (Colombo/Dec04/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea prices up amid low volumes

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka tea prices picked up at the last auction in November amid low volumes, brokers said.

“Auction offerings continued to record a further decline and totalled 4.2 million Kilograms, of which Ex-Estate offerings comprised of 0.6 million Kilograms. There was good demand,” Forbes and Walker Tea brokers said.

“In the Ex-Estate catalogues, overall quality of teas showed no appreciable change. Here again, there was good demand in the backdrop of extremely low volumes.”

High Growns

BOP Best Westerns were firm to 50 rupees per kg dearer. Below best and plainer types were Rs.50/- per kg easier on last.

Nuwara Eliya’s were firm.

BOPF Best Westerns were firm to selectively dearer. Below best and plainer teas declined by 50 rupees per kg.

Uva/Uda Pussellawas’ were generally firm and price variances were often reflective of quality with the exception of Select Best Uva BOPF’s which were firm and up to 50 rupees per kilogram dearer.

CTC teas, in general, were mostly firm.

“Most regular buyers were active, with perhaps a slightly more forceful trend from the local trade,” brokers said.

Corresponding OP1’s met with improved demand. Well-made OP/OPA’s in general were fully firm, whilst the Below Best varieties and poorer sorts met with improved demand. PEK/PEK1’s, in general, were fully firm to selectively dearer.

In the Tippy catalogues, well-made FBOP/FF1’s sold around last levels, whilst the cleaner Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated. Balance too were dearer to a lesser extent.

In the Premium catalogues, very Tippy teas continued to attract good demand. Best were firm to selectively dearer, whilst the Below Best and cleaner teas at the bottom appreciated

Low Growns

Low Growns comprised 1.8 million Kilograms. Market met with improved demand, in general.

In the Leafy & Semi Leafy catalogues, select Best BOP1/OP1’s were fully firm, whilst the Below Best/bolder BOP1’s were barely steady.

Low-grown teas, farmed mainly by smallholders and exported to the Middle East and Central Asia, are the most sought-after and expensive Ceylon Teas.

Low-grown CTC prices have gained this week to 982.80 per kilogram this week from 934.76 per kilogram last week.

Few Select best BOP1s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower. Poorer types maintained.

BOPF’s in general, firm market.

FBOPF/FBOPF1’s select best and best increased in value, whilst the below best and bottom held firm.

Selected best BOP1’s maintained, whilst best and below best were irregularly lower.Poorer types maintained.

OP1’s selects best together with best and below best were firm to dearer. Poorer sorts were fully firm.

Medium Growns

BOPF’s, select best gained by 50 rupees per kilogram. Others maintained.

BOP1’s select best dearer by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others moved up by 50 rupees per kg.

OP1: select best gained by 100 rupees per kg whilst all others dearer by 100 rupees per kg.

OP/OPA’s in general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg whilst the poorer sorts were firm.

PEK’s Select best gained by 50 rupees per kg whilst all others maintained. PEK1: In general, dearer by 50 rupees per kg. (Colombo/Dec 04/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka Ports Authority East Terminal contractor paid: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ports Authority had paid a deposit for a gantry crane and made the required payment for the contractor to complete building the East Container Terminal, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said.

The East Container Terminal, a part of which is already built is being completed as a fully SLPA owned terminal at a cost of 480 million dollars Ports and Shipping Minister de Silva said.

“ECT we are funding with money available in the ports authority,” he said.

“Up to now we have paid an advance for the gantry crane. And for the construction we have paid all the money agreed with the contractor. So that is going on well.”

Sri Lanka is undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s soft-pegged (flexible exchange rate) central bank which has created difficulties in funding the project.

“Every penny we collect as dollars we are keeping them separately and utilizing that for the Eastern Terminal work,” Minister de Silva said.

“We are confident that the ECT will be completed within the envisaged time. It is a difficult task in view of the dollar problem.

Banks were also not releasing the dollar deposits of the SLPA earlier but are now doing so, he said.

“Our deposits in banks they have utilized for urgent other national purposes,” he said.

“So they are releasing that money slowly. I am happy that they are releasing that money little by little. So with that we will be able to manage that.”

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